Wednesday, June 9, 2010

To Dining Plan, or Not To Dining Plan? Part I

One of the questions about WDW I have heard the most revolves around the dining plan options, aka the Disney Dining Plan, aka DDP.  Back in my younger years, there was no DDP.  I remember going to Epcot (well, EPCOT Center back then) and my mom running to the video kiosks under Spaceship Earth to grab a lunch reservation for the Rose and Crown.  Those days are long gone, and to make things more fun, Disney likes to tweak the process every now and then.  It's not always the most clear part of planning a Disney vacation.

Before we start, let's talk basics  WDW has quick service (QS) and table service (TS) meals.  Pretty self explanatory.  And to get the dining plan, you must stay on Disney property, and you must purchase a package, which means you have to buy your tickets and room bundled together.  Disney calls the room and ticket bundle a Magic Your Way (MYW) package.  

Children under 3 aren't eligible for the dining plan, and children ages 3 - 9 on the dining plan must order from the children's menu.  This usually isn't an issue, other than some kids over the age of 9 still prefer smaller portions, but there's no way around this.  Most Disney restaurants participate in the DDP, but there are a few that won't.  The exceptions are so few that I don't even worry about it, but be sure to check the official list (more on this later).

For each night of your stay, each child 3+ and adult gets the appropriate daily credits depending on what kind of plan you choose (more on that later).  The credits all get dumped in to piles - one for children's meals, one for adult meals and one for snacks.  If one adult wants to eat 10 TS meals in one day, and there's 15 credits in the pile, then that's fine.  They aren't assigned to each person.  And each time you use the DDP, you will find your total remaining credits at the bottom of the receipt.

Chew on this, then check out part II.